Life transitions. They are more than those really cool glasses that 50 year old you saw the other day was sporting 👓.
Transitions are “forks in the road” moments that alter the status quo. This applies to major life changes in relationships, routines, assumptions, or roles (caregiver, worker, parent) we are playing. Some are anticipated (such as kids starting another school year or a recent reorg at work) while others pop up on us (a breakup or health condition).
Many life changes are inherently stressful, even the positive ones. Whether they are life events like moving to a new city, starting a new job, going through a divorce, or more common events like graduating from school, getting married, or having a child, they all can have a profound impact on your mental health. These transitions often bring a mix of excitement and stress, as individuals must adapt to new circumstances and roles. While some people thrive on change, others may experience increased anxiety, depression, or feelings of fear during these times. Coping with the unknown, adjusting to new routines, and facing the challenges associated with change can lead to emotional struggles. It is essential to recognize the potential effects of life transitions on mental health and seek support when needed, whether through friends, family members, or professional counseling, to navigate these periods of adjustment successfully.
While not a perfect science, there are four areas of reflection that allow us to strive and thrive through life’s inherent transitions. You can remember these coping strategies by the 4 S’s for Successful Transition.
- Situation – Context (and perspective) matters. Some questions to think about and gain clarity on include:
Trigger: What precipitated this transition?
Timing: Is the transition considered “on time” or “off time” in terms of your social clock?
Control: What aspect of the transition do you perceive as being within my control?
Duration: Is this transition seen as a permanent, temporary, or uncertain life challenge?
Previous experience with a similar transition: How effectively did you cope then, and what are implications for the current transition?
Concurrent stress: Are other sources of stress present?By painting and examining the whole picture, you can start to see what needs to be done.
- Self – So much of life is individual and personal, same goes for transitions. For example, stating a new job is different for someone with a newborn compared to a recent graduate, or someone with a learning dis(A)bility.Your identities, worldviews, and values all impact your ability to navigate a significant life change. Reflect on your unique situation, and more importantly, the assets and strengths you bring to this situation.
- Social Support – Part of going through any significant change is realizing we are not alone. Use your support system and ask for help, advice, or support along the way. These can be friends, family, mentors, fellow co-workers, you name it. Enlist a team and take this transition head on.
- Strategies – Outlining strategies that can modify, control the meaning, or manage stress of life’s transitions are key. Think of them like powerful tools in your toolkit – some you may already have, others might require a trip to “Transition Home Depot.”
The key is to take action and realize, while stressful, transitions are a chance to re-evaluate life goals and move closer to the version of ourselves we want to be. Of course, any time you need professional help managing through a difficult life transition or personal crisis, seek help from one of our mental health therapists at Diversus Health.
*If you or someone you care about is struggling with mental health, we can help. Contact us at Diversus Health to request an appointment with our mental health providers. If you need immediate assistance, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, or text ‘TALK’ to 38255.